Executive Coaching Articles

Succession Planning System

More than just preparing for attrition, a well-run succession planning system gives you a deep bench of leadership material. Use this three steps system to assess and train your leadership bench.

  1. Assess Leadership Needs.

The first step to your system needs to be evaluating current jobs. What are the qualities associated with these jobs? What would the perfect candidate look like?

Make a list of leadership skills. They might include, communication, decision making, strategizing, team building, and on to the specific technical skills and knowledge demanded by the job.

Prioritize these skills and choose about 5 core competencies. Then evaluate the jobs themselves to see which are most mission critical. These are the jobs it’s most important to have a succession plan in place for.

  1. Review potential leaders.

Take a careful look at your mid-range management. Evaluate their talents and skills. Which skills do they currently have that would fit with the core competencies you identified in your top jobs? Which skills do they lack?

Approach potential talent, discuss their goals, and see how they fit with your needs. You’ll need more than annual evaluations to uncover employees that can fit into your succession planning system. Expect to meet with potential talent monthly or even more often.

Be prepared to review the skill sets they currently have and those that need development. Discuss candidly the challenges of the position you’d like to prepare them for.

Someone with all the abilities may not be a good fit for a 70 hour a week job if they place a high value on family time. It’s best to know that early on so you can seek succession replacement elsewhere and redirect them into the succession of another job.

Review the skill sets still needed in order to have your succession prospect fully qualified. How long will it take to get them in place? What kinds of training do they need?

  1. Train your Top Talent.

Companies with top-notch succession planning systems have many venues in place to train their rising talent.

Since skills build upon each other, you’ll need to carefully implement this training to maximize development. Executive job coaching is a great place to start, but it will likely take a combination of strategies to bring your potential up to bench status.

Consider these career development activities:

  • Attending work related conferences
  • Receiving coaching or coaching others
  • On-the-job-training
  • Cross training
  • Participation in projects, teams, task forces, or committees
  • Working with a mentor or being a mentor
  • Membership/attendance in professional organizations
  • Leadership development programs
  • Course of study – in house, or accredited
  • Self-study, professional materials, reading assignments

To implement these activities, you may need to clear road blocks. Discuss your succession planning with others as necessary to help your prospects gain access to the leadership activities they need.

Of course you will not just set your plan into place and forget it. Succession planning systems need routine check-ups to insure they are running smoothly. The rewards of this diligence will be a smooth running company with more skilled employees and lower hiring and training costs.